The crisis accentuates the differences between Americans and Europeans

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in Brussels, March 16, 2020, after the videoconference of the G7 countries.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in Brussels, March 16, 2020, after the videoconference of the G7 countries. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

Europeans have had many disappointments in recent years with the United States. The US’s exit from the Paris climate deal and the Iran nuclear deal are the most glaring examples. Is this political and emotional alienation, sparked by the Trump administration's contemptuous unilateralism, accentuated with the coronavirus crisis? The G7 foreign ministers’ meeting by videoconference on Wednesday, March 25, fueled this impression, with no press release due to finish. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed alone to use the expression "Wuhan virus", to challenge China. The French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, stressed, for his part, "The need to combat any instrumentalization of the crisis for political ends".

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Europeans were struck by the way the United States – which on Wednesday (March 25th) counted more than a thousand coronavirus deaths – closed its airspace to flights from 26 Schengen countries. A decision "Taken unilaterally and without consultation", noted on March 12, in an unusual statement, the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. The choice to exclude the United Kingdom from this measure had reinforced the idea of ​​selective punishment of a political nature.

In addition, the US administration has not shown elementary solidarity with its European partners. In contrast, Donald Trump sent a letter to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, as Pyongyang reported, to offer support in the fight against the pandemic. On Sunday March 22, Donald Trump confirmed his outstretched hand to North Korea by citing another country that could be helped, Iran.

"Willingness to Predate"

One thing is unlikely to upset the President: the United Nations has disappeared from radar. Only its agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), are on the front line, each in its field. Consultation exists elsewhere. A videoconference of the G7 heads of state and government, chaired this year by the United States, was held on March 16, on a proposal from Paris. It was even before the European Central Bank (ECB) announced the purchase of 750 billion euro bonds, before the EU suspended the golden rule of a maximum 3% deficit. The G7 has paved the way for these extraordinary measures, saying it is ready to do "All that is necessary" to ensure global stability.


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